Top 10 Tips For Using Underlay With Gym Flooring

Whether you’re building a home gym to stay on top of your fitness or looking to create a commercial gym, your gym flooring is an important choice.  Depending on your needs and current setup, you may need to install underlay beneath your flooring. 

Underlay can help to increase shock absorption and reduce sound, both of which are essential for home and commercial gyms. If you’re searching for the perfect gym flooring for your fitness setup, you need to think about underlay. Keep reading to find out our top 10 tips for using underlay with gym flooring. 

In this article: 

  • What is Underlay and Why do You Need it?
  • 10 Tips for Using Underlay with Gym Flooring

What is Underlay and Why do You Need it?

Underlay is simply the barrier that sits beneath your flooring. If you’ve ever installed a new carpet in your home, you will be familiar with underlay. Generally, underlay refers to a thin cushioning that sits beneath your flooring. In a gym setting, it works as a shock pad and helps to prolong the life of a gym flooring. Considering the foot traffic, repetitive movements, machinery, and equipment that naturally comes with fitness, it’s important to create a space that can withstand all of this. 

Your underlay needs will vary depending on your situation. While some flooring can go straight down, others require underlay to go on top of the existing flooring before your gym flooring installation. 

There will be certain areas that will endure heavier impact activity, such as a free weights flooring area or heavy machinery. Underlay is beneficial not only for shock impact but for noise reduction and sound. By absorbing more impact from heavy equipment and movements, it can stop damage to the floor underneath and create a more comfortable exercise experience. 

10 Tips for Using Underlay with Gym Flooring

Survey Your Existing Floor Surface 

To install the right underlay, you need to examine your existing floor surface. Is it a concrete base or maybe you have wooden flooring? If you’re looking to achieve a certain level of flooring thickness, for example in a free weights area, then underlay will help create the right type of absorption.  

Consider the Level of Foot Traffic 

Commercial gym flooring receives a ton of ongoing foot traffic, so will need to be robust and long-lasting to endure all activities. Lots of shoes scuffing around and weights on the floor can damage the floor over time. When choosing underlay and deciding the right gym flooring for your facility, foot traffic and type of use will play a big role in the decision-making process. 

Analyse the Risk of Damage to Your Current Floor 

Not all underlays are created equal. While some may be perfect for one scenario, they may not be ideal for another. When using underlay, you need to think about the risk of damage to your current flooring. For example, if you’re renting a space for a commercial gym, the likelihood is that you need to return the rental area without any damage. If you’re looking to install gym equipment  treadmills and rowing machines, this has the potential to mark your current flooring. Underlay combined with gym flooring saves your existing flooring from damage.

Underlay Needs are Dependent on Use 

Like all your gym flooring decisions, your underlay needs depend on how you’re going to use the space. If you’re lifting weights and using heavy machinery, installing your gym flooring straight on top of an unstable surface is a recipe for disaster. Without a flat subfloor, rubber rolls and tiles may lift, move or ripple. This could create an unsafe environment for exercise. 

Free Weights Areas Will Need Higher Impact Absorption 

Some areas of the gym will require more impact absorption. It makes sense that a free weights area needs that extra level of shock impact support and thickness. When you’re repeatedly dropping weights from a height, there’s a potential to damage the flooring beneath if your installation isn’t quite right.

Choose the Right Type of Underlay 

There are different types of underlay available, and some may suit your needs more than others. If you’re renting a location with a carpet, you might not be able to rip it up to reveal concrete. In this case, plywood could be a good option to retain and protect the carpet. You also have the option to use rubber underlay rolls that are great for covering larger spaces.

Create a Smooth Finish with Underlay 

Using underlay can help create a smooth final finish to your gym. An uneven subfloor may result in potential trip hazards. It’s a good idea to double-check your existing flooring to make sure the final result will be exactly what you had in mind. You want your gym flooring to look seamless.

Get the Right Thickness for Your Needs 

When it comes to choosing the right home gym flooring, the thickness is essential. For example, for heavy weight sessions, as much as 60mm in thickness is ideal. In contrast, light activity with no heavy equipment would be sufficient with 4mm thickness. Depending on your type and level of use, underlay can help create the right feel for your workout. 

Remove Existing Floor Coverings Where Possible 

Where possible, it’s best to remove any existing floor coverings before installing underlay and gym flooring. This gives you the right base to get started. If you’re renting a location in the case of a commercial gym, then it’s not always possible to remove floor coverings before you start. It is possible to install rubber fitness tiles over existing tiles as long as they are securely installed with no chance of movement. With wooden flooring, it’s a good idea to remove all boards and nails before starting the installation.

Look for Easy to Clean and Water-Repellant Features

Your underlay should be easy to install and clean. Look for material that is quick to install and easy to cut, making the whole process smoother. Rolls are an excellent option for underlay as you can roll out the width of the room and cut accordingly. Consider water and moisture-repellant features as well. The gym can get sweaty, so this is something to take into account. 

Whether you need an underlay or not, entirely depends on your existing setup and how you intend on using the space. Any area where you plan on lifting weights or placing heavy machinery presents a risk of damage to the floor beneath. Whenever there is a risk of impact on equipment or the floor, it’s crucial to use underlay with gym flooring. Underlay is excellent for noise dampening and anywhere your consistently dropping weights to the ground. 

As with all exercise and physical movement, safety is key. Increase shock absorption and thickness with underlay. Match your flooring choice to your needs so that you design a space that is entirely fit for purpose. Whether you choose rubber tiles, rolls, or wooden flooring for your gym, make sure you get your underlay right to create the perfect fitness facility for you and choose the right flooring for your commercial gym


October 25, 2020 — Richard McKay